closeup of old labrador retriever

Saying goodbye is never easy.

There is nothing worse than realizing your precious pet might be nearing the end of his life. Animals often become like best friends or family members in spite of their brief interludes on earth. Dogs tend to live an average of 12-13 years while cats have live longer, up to 15-18 years. When you witness your cat or dog becoming feebler, it is time to consider this question: do you put your pet down or allow him to die of natural causes? Below is a simple breakdown of what factors to take into account when you must decide how to let your pet go.

Euthanizing: When trying to decide whether or not to allow your pet be euthanized, here are some factors that might indicate this is the best option:

  • The pet is losing his motor skills or bodily functions. When a cat or dog can no longer eat without help, or they have lost bladder control, or the ability to relieve themselves, existence will become quite hard. Regular elements of survival become labored, and the animal ceases to be an independently functioning creature. In cases such as these, it might not be considered loving to continue their lives.
  • The pet is in severe pain. Oftentimes, chronic pain can be treated with medication to make the symptoms livable. However, if the pain limits the animal’s ability to enjoy life because he is unable to move comfortably, or participate in life-giving events (such as exercise, cuddling with their owner, playing, etc), then it might be time to consider euthanizing the pet.
  • The pet has a terminal disease. Discomfort and agony increase with time when an animal is cancerous, or housing large tumors or parasites. When death is eminent and the months ahead will be filled with suffering, putting a dog or cat down might be the most merciful choice.

Natural Death: Losing a beloved cat or dog is a painful process for the pet owner, and often our emotions tell us to allow the animal to live as long as we can.

  • The pet’s overall health is in good condition. This may be determined when the vet sympathizes about your pet’s evident decrepit ways as he ages, but can assure you that he is, in all other respects, in good health. Allowing nature to take its course is the best choice in this scenario.
  • If there has been a recent or significant loss in the family. Some choose to keep the pet alive if the family members have just experienced a bereavement or a recent move, if the elderly animal is not in immediate physically dire straits. Rather than overwhelm the family with another loss, allowing the cat or dog to go on their own terms will lessen the dread and strain of planning and processing euthanasia.
  • If the animal has severe anxiety about the veterinarian. Certain pets experience trauma when they simply have to get in the car or go sit on a veterinarian’s table. When a cat or dog reacts this way, it can be very uncomfortable to imagine ending their life in a clinical environment where they are afraid, instead of letting them die peacefully at home.

Whatever method you choose, be sure to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of euthanasia and natural death, so that the right decision is made for you and your pet.

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